Supreme Court

Estates and Trusts


General principles

Tenant’s interest in Trust was mere hope that trustees would exercise discretion in manner favourable to her

Landlord, public housing body, provided discretionary rental assistance program (RAP) to tenants meeting certain criteria. Tenant, person with disabilities, had interest in “Henson trust” (Trust) of which she was co-trustee. Landlord refused to consider tenant’s rent assistance application because tenant would not disclose value of Trust. Tenant and employer petitioned for declarations regarding Trust. Court held tenant’s interest in Trust was asset and ordered her to disclose value of Trust. Tenant’s appeals to Court of Appeal were dismissed. Tenant appealed to Supreme Court of Canada. Appeal allowed. Tenant’s interest in Trust was not asset that could disqualify her from being considered for rent subsidy. Tenant did not have enforceable right to receive anything unless and until trustees decided to exercise their discretion in her favour. Tenant’s interest in Trust was mere hope that trustees would exercise their discretion in manner favourable to her. Tenant’s status as co-trustee did not change fact that under terms of Trust, she had no fixed entitlement to assets and was precluded from unilaterally collapsing Trust for her benefit.

S.A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corp. (2019), 2019 CarswellBC 98, 2019 CarswellBC 99, 2019 SCC 4, 2019 CSC 4, Wagner C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Gascon J., Côté J., Brown J., Rowe J., and Martin J. (S.C.C.); reversed (2017), 2017 CarswellBC 87, 2017 BCCA 2, D. Smith J.A., Bennett J.A., and Goepel J.A. (B.C. C.A.).

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